This weekend began, as they occasionally do, with the celebrations for Belgian National Day. It was a rainy Wednesday, and at the top of Street 5, outside La Patate, a large wedding style tent was erected, with a large wedding style stage and an extraordinary number of large, larger and indeed largest speakers scattered around at mostly appropriate intervals.
The musical treat was the Phnom Penh Hot Strings Jazz Club, an outfit with as many line-ups as it has performances, who took the sheltering crowds through a Belgian-influences trip around the musical world, double-fronted by the violinical and harmonicatrical pyrotechnics of Mat and the laidback chatty Doc Speck on the 8-string ukelele and vocals, backed by a work hard/play hard rhythm section that leapt over crack and chasm alike in their pursuit of the perfect groove. It was blues and it was jazz and it was funky … all those things that really say "Belgium" to the man in the street. Apparently Doc Speck has been to Brussels quite a number of times … and in the end, despite the wires in the puddles, nobody was electrocuted.
We then leapfrog into Friday, when the newest place in town, Dream Up restaurant and bar, hosted three bands. The trio Shangri-La played an energetic and enthusiastic opening set of covers and originals with a Russian flavour, followed by Expresso Thmei doing that thing that they do, and finally Bayon Blues (yes, they're back in town) -- only I had to leave early and will have to wait to catch up on their bluesiness on a weekend to come.
I was back at Dream Up on Saturday night, late, and encountered Sergey and Tree sitting outside with acoustic guitars, surrounded by a generous handful of customers. In a move reminiscent of the well-remembered and now long-departed Revolution Bar I joined for a half dozen of my party pieces, and then settled in to listen to some strumming tunes. Very pleasant. I'll go ahead and recommend Dream Up as a place to drop into and check out.
This weekend: Cambodian Space Project's last concert before September -- Equinox, Saturday night -- Khmer-friendly start time: 7.30 pm.